DENVER (CBS4) – War monuments can be controversial, but a new one in Colorado received unanimous approval from the state Legislature. A larger-than-life bronze sculpture of legendary war hero, Major General Maurice Rose, will be installed in Lincoln Veterans’ Memorial Park across the street from the Capitol.
The son of a Polish Rabbi, General Rose grew up in Colorado and joined the Army at age 17. He became the highest ranking and most distinguished Jewish American soldier and most decorated armored battlefield commander in U.S. history.
“What an amazing leader, what an amazing Coloradan, and what an amazing war hero General Rose was,” said Speaker of the House Alec Garnett, one of the lead sponsors of the resolution approving the installation on state property, “He was Colorado’s proudest war hero.”
A veteran of both World Wars, General Rose was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver and Bronze Stars, Legion of Merit and Purple Heart. Yet, he is largely unknown.
Biographer Marshall Fogel calls him the “greatest forgotten commander.”
“How biblical is it for a Jewish war hero to be the first to invade Nazi Germany, capture the first major city in Germany, shoot down the first German airplane,” Fogel said.
Rose also became the highest ranking American killed by enemy fire in the European Theater. He is buried in the Netherlands.
“So it seems only fitting that we begin the quest to really give him a final resting place and celebration in his hometown,” said Gov. Jared Polis.
General Rose is the namesake of Rose Medical Center. Denver resident Paul Shamon, who led the effort to get the sculpture approved, says General Rose will be the first Jew in Colorado to have a state monument of any kind.
“In today’s climate of increasing anti-Semitism, it is more critical than ever to set the record straight about Jews’ loyalty to the country in which they live,” said Shamon.
Renowned sculptor George Lundeen of Loveland will create the 10-foot-tall bronze sculpture, which will be mounted on an eight-foot-tall piece of granite. Shamon has set up the website rosemonument.org to raise money for the installation, which will take about six months to complete. The Rose Foundation donated $10,000 to get the project off the ground.